Drama, edge-of-your-seat action and almost no upsets. It’s been the theme of 2023, and it crystallized in Week 12. Big favorites were tested, we saw a heart-pounding evening session — Washington holding off Oregon State and Mizzou nailing a last-second field goal to beat Florida — and no team that was both ranked (in the CFP rankings) and favored actually lost.
The action itself is worth the price of admission. You didn’t have to search very hard to be entertained Saturday. But what has actually changed of late in the college football universe?
Plenty, actually! And there’s plenty that hasn’t. Let’s take a look.
Jump to a section:
Georgia is rolling
Michigan-Ohio State for everything
Clemson on rise, USC not
Texas leans on lines
Jerry Kill’s magic
Taking the long view
What CFP should look like
Heisman of week
Favorite games of week
What has changed: Georgia is rolling now
Well, college football, you had your chance. Georgia spent nearly two months of the 2023 season insisting on cruising along in second gear as much as possible and let a couple of overmatched SEC foes get closer to an upset than expected. The Bulldogs battled injuries and slogged through the kind of motivation issues that only a two-time defending national champion might face, and slow starts led to reasonably unimpressive results.
Safe to say, motivation issues are no longer a problem. And injuries are becoming less of one. The result is pretty scary.
Georgia’s scoring margins vs. SP+ projections
First five games: -10.6 PPG
Next four games: +4.4 PPG
Past two games: +19.6 PPG
The Dawgs have gone from underachieving against projections by double digits (meaning, they were winning by far fewer points than they were expected to) to overachieving by double digits. After a genuine test against Missouri two weeks ago, the Dawgs faced ranked Ole Miss and Tennessee teams and beat them by a combined 90-27. In Knoxville on Saturday, Tennessee gained 75 yards on its first play from scrimmage, a Jaylen Wright touchdown sprint, but that was evidently just a benevolent gesture from the champs. The Vols gained only 202 yards (3.7 per play) over the game’s final 59:49.
Meanwhile, Carson Beck continued his “the better the opponent, the better he plays” routine, going a cool 24-for-30 for 298 yards and three scores. Brock Bowers, fully returned from an October injury, caught seven balls with a…